Simon Property results easily beat Wall Street views again

Mon Feb 4, 2013 2:01pm EST
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By Ilaina Jonas

(Reuters) - Simon Property Group Inc (SPG.N: Quote) reported a 21.9 percent increase in a key earnings measure for the fourth quarter, easily beating analysts' estimates, as rents and sales rose at its malls and outlet centers.

The No. 1 U.S. mall and outlet center owner also raised its dividend on Monday for the sixth straight quarter.

"They just continue to defy gravity," said Uniplan Investment Counsel President Richard Imperiale, whose fund owns Simon shares. "When you think they're going to flatten out just because there's no more room on the upside, they continue to churn out good operating results."

Simon is the first large mall operator to report results for the fourth quarter, when holiday shopping was less than stellar.

The only real estate company in the Standard & Poor's 100 index .SPX, Simon owns or has an interest in 328 retail properties in North America and Asia.

Simon said fourth-quarter funds from operations had increased to $827.4 million, or $2.29 per share, from $678.9 million, or $1.91 per share, a year earlier.

Analysts on average had expected FFO of $2.17 a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Expense reduction helped Simon exceed Wall Street estimates, Imperiale said.   Continued...